Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"A change began taking shape in the lives of the Bertelsens in 1852. Their daughter Lette said she had never known Niels to have an enemy in the world up to that time. Soon after Erastus Snow was sent to Denmark to establish the Danish Mission for the LDS Church, Elder George P. Dykes went to the city of Aalborg, a great trading center in northern Jutland. Before long, the elders arrived in Viborg. In serious-minded Maren, who was religiously inclined, the missionaries found fertile ground in which to cultivate their new and unusual religion. After hearing them only once, she was convinced that their message was true. Niels did not embrace their teachings quite so readily. Lette said 'While investigating to find out for themselves, before either of them were baptized, a mob gathered around their home to try to find the Mormon elders, saying they would beat them to death.' Not finding the elders, they went to the landlord and demanded that he exact a promise from the Bertelsens, on threat of their being turned out, that they would allow no Mormons to enter their home. Lette continued, 'The landlord pled with them a long time, but they would not promise, so he said they must go, but he could not tell them where.' Niels was so angered by this injustice he immediately wrote to the magistrate to find out if such action was legal. The word came that the county authorities must give them shelter until some other place could be found, and that they were not forbidden to let anyone enter their house if they did not preach or hold meetings. It was very hard for the family to leave the only home they had ever known, all because they wanted to read the Bible and find out for themselves if these men were telling the truth. In spite of the frequent persecution and mobbing, all the family that were old enough were baptized between 1852 and 1854. Niels was livid when Maren and the children came home with their heels crushed and bleeding from having been stomped on as they fled their persecutors. The family soon moved to Aalborg. Niels was made presiding elder of the Hals branch on June 24, 1858, a position he held until moving to Frejlev, where on January 25, 1861 he was again made presiding elder. With the dawning of the year 1863, the only members of Niels Bertelsen's family still on Danish soil were himself, Maren, and their oldest and youngest daughters. Nearly 10 years had passed since Lette, with her little sister Helene, had made the initial historic trip to Utah. Most of the rest had followed. Now Niels and Maren were making their own plans to sail with 11-yr-old Christiana Dorthea (Anna), but it was with the painful knowledge that their oldest, Johanne (and my great great-grandmother), would be left behind. She had been married the previous year to a man bitterly opposed to Mormonism, and he refused to ever let her join them in Utah. She continued to work and save her money, and in 1900, two years before her death, she sent her grandson, Nels Christian Madsen, to Utah."

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